Though Minnesota seems relatively young in terms of settlement, more than three hundred years have passed since explorers of the 1600s made the turn at the confluence of the St. Croix River near Hastings and paddled up the Mississippi through the lands that would become the state’s capital city. Native American encampments dotted the high river bluffs in those bygone days where updrafts carried Swallow-tailed Kites, oak limbs bowed under the weight of Passenger Pigeons, and prairie chickens danced in the openings of the oak savannah. The St. Croix Delta, the land between the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, was once considered the richest timbered land in the state, supporting stands of white pines in which individual trees measured up to 5 feet in diameter.
Key birds: Double-crested Cormorant, Bald Eagle, Turkey Vulture, Redshouldered Hawk, Great Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Whip-poorwill, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Western Kingbird, Wood Thrush, Indigo Bunting, Dickcissel, Field Sparrow. Don’t miss: Grey Cloud Island, Schaar’s Bluff, Afton State Park.
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